Friday, March 11, 2011

Matilda’s birth Monday 21st February 2011

I was recently very privileged to attend to my first doula birth. The birth mummy has given permission for me to post 'our' story here. Thank you! Here you go folks :)

This is my first birth story. My first birth story that isn’t mine. I feel proud and privileged to be part of someone else’s story and it is something that will stay with me forever.

Matilda’s mummy (S) started her labour story days before her baby would finally be born. The contractions started on the Thursday, infrequent and easy to deal with, S kept me informed of progress and excitement rippled through our world. Friday came and went with similar contractions, and so went Saturday. Sunday morning came the exciting message that things were starting to get a bit more intense. Contractions had begun in earnest at 3.30am and S was now having regular contractions every five minutes. The midwife was due to arrive to monitor progress and I was told to prepare myself for ‘the call’. My Sunday was then spent pacing the flat! S sent another message in the late morning to say the midwife had been, it looked like labour was progressing and she would expect to get another call in the afternoon. S called me at 4pm to say her waters had just broke! I scurried around, got my bag and leapt into a taxi!

I arrived at the flat to find S dealing with the contractions well. You could feel the excitement in the room. This baby was on its way! Little B (at 15 months old) was being entertained by S’s mum, while A (Matilda’s daddy) was keeping an eye on everyone and seeming to be everywhere at once with his devotion to S apparent and his love of Little B shining. S continued having 5 minutes contractions and the midwife turned up again soon after. She checked to find S was 2cm dilated. Things were progressing, albeit slowly, progression is the key!

The next few hours meld into each other. Massaging S with clary sage, on her back, on her arms and on her beautiful bump. I could feel the contractions as they happened and tried to take some of the pain into my hands. S was brilliant, changing positions, standing, lying on her side, kneeling, pacing, coping beautifully with each contraction. She decided on gas & air to help deal with the pain. We rubbed her back. First me, then A, then me again. A came and went, looking after Little B, looking after all of us. Little B came into the room often to check on her mummy. Once assured that all was well and her mummy was still there, she left again. I found it so beautiful to see Little B joining in with this birth. Too young to really understand but one day her mummy will be able to tell her “you were there, you were with me while your sister was making her way into this world”.

S asked for morphine. She was starting to get tired from the contractions. After the morphine we left the room and let S rest a while with A. They had made a beautiful lasagne and I will remember that meal as long as I live! It was a chance for me to speak with the midwife, to talk about what we did for a living, to set a boundary for us and form an alliance. It was a good opportunity for me to help her realise that I wasn’t there to tell her what to do. After all, my allegiance was to S, and S had asked me for support, not asked me to tell the midwife what to do.

More hours, more massage, more pacing, bouncing, kneeling, swaying. S was beautiful, coping so well, never moaning.

The midwife checked her again at 9pm. She was 4cm. The midwife told her she was progressing but very slowly. I thought “Brilliant! Progression!”. More morphine was given, more pacing, more swaying, more massaging. S was getting tired. The midwife asked if S was focused on a home birth, or just a vaginal birth. S didn’t know any more. The midwife left the room and it gave us some time to talk. I told her that the midwife was going to tell her we could go to hospital. We could go and get an epidural and she could sleep. S told me she knew. She knew this was coming. She was getting so tired. With tiredness comes the doubt and with doubt things become less clear. We would see how things went and in a couple of hours we would check again and if there was no progression, S would transfer to hospital.

S was checked again at 10.30pm. The midwife said she was still 4cm. Plus the baby had her hand against her face. This was why it was so hard. The time had come to go to hospital.

It was the night of an old firm match. Celtic vs Rangers in the football. Many many fights, drunk people, accidents. The ambulance took 45 minutes to appear. S continued to cope with contractions. I was amazed with her stamina. She never complained, she just swayed, breathing deeply, brilliantly.

The transfer to hospital and handover seem in my mind to have taken forever. All S wanted was an epidural but there was so much to do beforehand! Foetal monitoring, new midwives, new questions. I gave the new midwife the birth plan. “Whatever happens”, I said, “she has written it all in her birth plan. I think you should know her wishes”.
The doctor came in and examined S. Still 4cm but she was happy that the baby was happy and she thought that with an epidural we could give it a couple of hours and see what happened. Only one problem – the anaesthetist was going to go in for a C-section soon. S could have a CS now but the dr was saying she could try for a normal delivery. S considered a CS. Everyone left the room except for S, A and myself. A told S that he would agree with whatever she wanted but he thought she should try an epidural first. I agreed with him. I truly believed that S was struggling so much because she was so tired. Contractions had started at 3.30am and it was now 12am the next day! Just a bit of rest, a little sleep, and it would all seem so different. S agreed.

The anaesthetist was too busy to come. He had gone into surgery. S was left with no morphine, just gas and air. Just waiting. She was brilliant. The same as the last 20 hours. No complaining, no shouting, just breathing. I looked at her face. She was so tired. So so tired. I wished that I could just take some of that pain, just for a little while, so she could get some sleep. We tried some different positions. A was brilliant. He was so in love with S and right then his love was so apparent he could have been wearing a flashing badge saying “I love this woman!”. He held her hand, held her face, kissed her, stroked her skin, made her feel loved, kept her calm. I sat to the side and tried to blur into the background; there if needed, but not needed right then.

The monitor had slipped a couple of times and the baby’s heartbeat was not registering properly. The doctor came back in and announced that the baby was in distress! The monitor had slipped, I said, and so did the midwife. The doctor stayed for another contraction and was not happy with the trace. S was exhausted, A was worried for his wife, and the option of a C-section was given again. Less of an option, they weren’t happy with the heartbeat. It was time for S and A to decide. They agreed to go for the CS. 23 hours after contractions started, S went in to the operating theatre. A looked so scared, so worried for her. I was left in the labour room. Time to pack up our things and wait.

I was moved to another room and waited. A came out of the operating room, Matilda was born! I could have cried! I didn’t, I think I knew if I cried then that the tiredness that was burning around the edges would creep in and I wouldn’t stop crying or I would fall asleep! He looked so happy. The face of a new father. So relieved that S was OK, so happy that Matilda was here. She was here! She looked like Little B. She had hair. She was fine. Everyone was OK.

I waited for S to come out of theatre and met Matilda. She was already on the breast, she hadn’t moved since being put there. What a brilliant start to breastfeeding! S looked tired but happy. Photos were taken. I stayed for a while, I wanted to make sure S was OK. I crept away at 4.30am, 25 hours after contractions had started, 90 minutes after Matilda was born. Welcome to the world Matilda!

My first doula birth. A life-changing experience and one I will never forget.

Thank you, S, A, Little B, S’s mum, and of course, Matilda ☺ x


  1. I want to cry reading this , how amazing for you and for the family .


  2. Thanks Laura, I'm really pleased I've been allowed to publish this. It felt really good to write it all down. Talk about emotional! x

  3. Aw wonderful! Out of interest do you know weather many doula's would be willing to support a woman in a planned c-section? x

  4. Hi Hayley! Yes indeed! I know many doulas who are asked to support women having a planned C-section. Sometimes this is because on a previous occasion they have been left on their own / partners left on their own / children left with no care, sometimes it is to help with the first breastfeed after surgery, many reasons. Every birth should be supported and if you felt you wanted someone there for you I am absolutely positive you would find many doulas willing to help!

    Here are some links:

    If you want more info then email me through the 'get in touch' link on the Doula Services tab :)


  5. ooh, I'm so cross - I just typed a big comment, then stupidly clicked on an interesting link in your twitter feed and lost it! I was saying...

    It's lovely to read that you were so pleased and honoured to be part of the birth, when of course they must have been so pleased to have you there too. Bringing that calm and support to someone at one of the most pivotal moments of their lives is quite a skill and I can see why you'd want to do it as a career - it sounds like an amazing experience.

  6. A beautiful story. (I think my colleagues think me a little odd as I am sitting here trying not to cry after reading it!) What an amazing experience to have been a part of.

  7. Ah, thanks folks. It was really amazing. I'm still reeling from the experience 5 weeks on! Bring on more babies :) x

  8. Waiting on official confirmation from my GP and my booking appt at the Princess Royal - 10 WKS (APPROX) WITH OUR FIRST CHILD AFTER 17 YEARS AT THE AGE OF 32!! Excited, happy and yes scared! So much to take in so unexpectedly. Just wanted to tell someone and to encourage you - what an inspirational story, a wonderful big hearted job how satisfying. Be proud! I am definitely considering the support of a Doula myself!xxGxx :-)

  9. Congratulations Gillian! What an exciting, terrifying experience for you! Soon you will have a scan and see your baby and it will all become a bit more real :) Email me if you want to chat about anything. Doulas are fabulous resources for all sorts of information, even if you decide you don't need one for the actual birth. I'm so excited for you!!! L.xxxx

  10. I cried reading this. I am a friend of S and I didn't know how brave she'd been. You have been wonderful supporting her too! Well done!

    1. Thanks Martina :) What a fabulous day it was! x


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